One week ago, the Belgian football club KAA Gent, or La Gantoise, became Belgian league champions for the first time in their history after 115 years of trying! Having lived in Gent for eleven months, I became a supporter of the team and have followed them ever since. I freely admit to experiencing one or two tears of joy as I watched the jubilant scenes unfold before me when I snuck away from work to stream the game online, and that night I persuaded (not that it was difficult) my parents to join me in some celebratory Belgian beers.
It has been a few months since I reviewed a Belgian beer, and since I happened to share a well-aged bottle of Augustijn Grand Cru with my father the other night, I decided to write down some tasting notes. Brewed by Brouwerij Van Steenberge (the same people who make Gulden Draak) this was my first time trying the Augustijn Grand Cru, and it did not disappoint! This was also my 219th different Belgian beer.
While I have been experimenting with homebrew for a few years now, I had never made anything else of the fermented kind. That is finally changing, with my first batch of rhubarb wine sitting on the counter in a jug as we speak! Following is the recipe and method that I have followed so far in this exciting new adventure.
Happy Beltane/Beltain/Bealtaine and May Day to everyone! Last night, to celebrate the beginning of Beltane, we had a small bonfire near the treehouse in our gully. We drank beer, roasted smokies, popped popcorn, listened to the creek chuckle away, and then headed inside after dark to listen to a couple of tunes. As Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull would say,
“Have you ever stood in the April wood and called the new year in?
While the phantoms of three thousand years fly as the dead leaves spin?
There’s a snap in the grass behind your feet and a tap upon your shoulder.
And the thin wind crawls along your neck it’s just the old gods getting older.
And the kestral drops like a fall of shot and the red cloud hanging high
come a Beltane.”
We also shared my last bottle of Geen Kriek, which was a cherry flavoured wheat beer that Gavin and I made back in late 2012. We named it Geen Kriek because the cherries we used came from my Dad’s cousin, a certain Mr. Geen, and “geen” happens to be the Dutch word for “no” or “none”, so paired with the Dutch word for cherry beer, “kriek”, we had a delightfully punny name. I had wondered if it would still taste any good, but in fact it was the best tasting bottle yet; I suppose even homebrew made by two inexperienced youth can get better with age!